In the Middle

We have a group of boys who are basically our little brothers – always around right outside the gate, jumping up whenever there’s something to be involved and able to help in, and – with the amount of time they’re around us – we are growing up together.

Last week, a week I saw prayers for “loving in the details and within a busy schedule” answered (thanks for being a prayer warrior if you’re one of them!), I was spending an out-of-the-ordinary calm thirty minutes just sitting and simply BEing with Dalinsky, Olbens, and all of the boys. Doing the same thing as always, but slowed down and beside them as the sun started to finally go down and relieve us from the overbearing heat of July. 

With jokes, easy conversation, and comfortable silence – I was hit was a gratitude and overwhelming awe at the opportunity to do life together and how normal it is. What an opportunity. What a privilidge. 

And in a dry and weary land. Not just from the heat, which is killer this week, and the lack of rain to go with it. Not just because I’m surrounded by hungry tummies, with hands thankfully and VERY quickly grabbing up dinner when we have some to share. But also weary with a lack of leadership, vision, and example of men. REAL men. Fathers who support their kids, leaders who plan with purpose, guys who pour into the next generation.

And here I am surrounded by a family God has transplanted me into. Man do I miss my Taylor brothers with a passion that springs water to my eyes quicker than I can remember I don’t like getting emotional – but I am surrounded with brothers. Breakdancing with my boot on and jokes about my residence, laughing with a contagious smile from Olbens that I cant help but be warmed by every time I get to see it. Joking with songs, crangle (creole – angle/english), and what Kiki is deciding to be strange about that day. These boys are family.

And in this bewilderment at our opportunity, I prayed. 

Unwillingly, by the way, cause do I really have the time, strength, or wisdom for this? 

But I can’t deny such a strong feeling in my heart and I pray for our role. For raising men up, as these boys age so fast. We are in this family. These boys are in a country, like America, that needs men. How do we love and influence our little brothers to fall in love with our Father? As they fall in love, I believe He takes care of the secondary consequence of being molded into a real man.

What does that even look like, who has the time, and am I nuts? But I pray. Half doubting, honestly, on real results.

Yesterday afternoon I had a spare hour while our visiting team explored Cabaret market. I sat down with a glorious ICED coffee and my Bible, ready for some Father time with the beautiful Creator (of ice, coffee, and cinnamon. Oh, He is good. Come on people – let’s celebrate the little amazing things that brighten our summer days!).

I hear voices first and feet second as the boys come in as a line, helping carry water upstairs. They jump up and do it all the time.

“Bonjou Estephanie!”

“Bonjou madame!”

“Como ou ye Estephanie!”

They giggle as they greet me, setting down jugs and flashing white teeth as they half-sprint, half-dance back out. 

Saint Pierre stops & says “w’ap li bib!” – “You’re reading the bible!” 

The boys joke and try to read the english, then Olbens ‘calls a meeting’ and says Dalinsky should open us in prayer. 

This is all with me simply sitting with my Bible, laughing, and then just dropping my jaw as they group together. A silent bystander watching it happen around me.

They then proceed to surround me and the table, take a seat with a creole bible from the stack in the corner, and with a giggle quickly turned serious by the ‘meeting leader’, they all turn to Luke together. 

They read a chapter. 

Then 1 Peter.

Then Psalm 18.

I sit back as they read in creole, as the leader pauses to tell the distracted boys to “Posè”, and keep trucking through passages. I pay attention to the reader and add a more “easy to understand” application when it’s a loaded reading. 

I sit back and watch their faces as they squint and read the words of Jesus in Creole. And I see God as he is actively seeing and interacting with us.

Prayer can so often be seen in mundane activities as we look up and see that planted right in the middle of our schedule is our answer – that in day to day life of even a prayer we didn’t want to ask for as it seemed too big – we are in the middle of the prayers we have thought, written, said out loud to the Maker of Heaven.

God, you are so good. I am so excited for what you’re planning in the family you’ve placed me in. Give me faith & a willing heart.







Silence.

Did you know that Dominican citizens of Haitian descent are being deported?

Or there are others fleeing before they’re deported without the ability to gather their things peacefully. They carry what they can on their back and hands.

This includes people born and raised, with legal papers, in the Dominican.

No one is reporting on it, except the Miami Herald, as far as I’ve seen.

All of a sudden I have a new understanding and appreciation – though not at all at the depth of the people actually suffering – of the frustrating and helpless feeling of being silenced.

In a world where news is instant and the ability to report and make it known, even viral, is at fingertips – silence.

As children are forced to walk miles because mom’s hands are full of the only belongings that the family owns now, because it’s what she can carry – silence.

As violence breaks out in the midst of it and humans, made with beauty and worth, spit and degrade other humans, made with beauty and worth, based on a difference in ancestry – silence.

But actually, there IS noise. That makes it even more frustrating, helpless, and tear-jerking. There are plenty of people talking, tweeting, and posing their iced coffee Starbucks cup for Instagram. Youtube has 60 hours of footage uploaded every minute – that’s an hour a second. We write our opinions on blogs (like this) and share it, retweet it, spend more screen time to read it and then read another article on Buzzfeed because the GIFs are just way too perfectly matched up with the witty “10 Reasons Why”.

I’m not saying that enterntainment is bad, or social media, or screens and all the things that we read on them.

But what are we using them for?

There are people waking up and facing ISIS, which some are calling the modern day holocaust. There are days I forget again that ISIS exists.

There are mothers who really can’t take care of their children, and I have no idea what the statistic is on how many will walk to an orphanage today and try to drop her youngest off in hopes of a better life for them.

Natural disasters, Terrorism, Slavery, Homelessness, A huge section of the world lacking clean water and electrity, and our own problems like addictions to pornography or straight apathy for the gospel are uncomfortable topics because we don’t know what to do, how to do it, or maybe we don’t even want to. They’re also far and not affecting us.

But imagine.

What if it was me? What if I scrounged up some of the few coins I had left after a night sleeping outside on the rolled up mat I carried from my home and across the border to a place that has never been my home – it was just where my mom came from. What if I used those coins to call my sister on the phone, and then through tears I asked her to post this. I talked about justice and hope and someone out there listening. I insisted that the world would say something once they heard what was going on.

Instead, there is silence.

Instead, there is plenty of other noise – which turns the silence into a mockery. Supreme Court rulings that will never be changed by talking about it on Facebook and the personal choices of famous people and a post claiming that the only way to love Jesus is by sharing an image that 16, 335 others have on social media. Trending hashtags today on Twitter are Paula Deen and #TheBachelorette. This is what we are choosing to pay attention to.

This is what oppression, stolen dignity, and losing a sense of worth probably feel like. It’s one of the places it can start to happen. No one is paying attention and would they even care if I told them? I am screaming at the top of my exhausted lungs, parched from yelling but also the hot sun and no relief because I have no home anymore and there is no drinkable water to be found.

I am not saying to stop using social media, enjoying entertainment, or sharing 15 DIY tips on Facebook.

But I AM humbled on how in an age where we are most equipped to be aware of what’s going on around us, we are more self-consumed than ever. I am guilty too.

Let’s be the change. Let’s pay attention.

Because the world isn’t doing it, we will have to be INTENTIONAL.

Look at world news for 15 minutes a day, or Google what ISIS is if you aren’t sure how it works. Find a cause you care about and sign up for a Google Alert that will show you the latest news on it.

Is world news depressing at times? Yes. And I know that’s why many don’t read it.

But we have been sent INTO the world.

And He is greater than all that is in it.

But we cannot be greater with Him if we are not deliberately seeking the silence and finding out what is going on in this world.

Let’s be the keys that unlock chains of injustice – sometimes, those keys are small ones that simply let one voice finally be heard.

We do not have to be the ones who continue to pay attention to noise and miss that there is a gaping hole of silence. We were meant for bigger things, and so is the mother waiting to be heard.

Promised Update:

I’m watching Hope’s hands to gauge how uncomfortable she is, after two years of loving her and knowing how she subtly shows her anxiety while she keeps her face solemn and emotionless. Maybe she doesn’t even realize that she does it.
I glance over to Jessica and watch for her to be despondent like our first months together, a girl who acknowledged conversation with her so little that we really second guessed ourselves and wondered if she was deaf at some moments. My stomach is clenched as I remember it took six months to get out first conversation that included laughter and two people talking instead of one, and my heart aches to think she is in the middle of transition again.
And as I carefully watch these two precious daughters, 4 and 6 according to the birth certificates we made for them and guessed their birthdays on, my stomach unclenches. My heart is not downcast but instead uplifted. I am silently thanking God and wondering how I can thank so many prayer warriors, and I am loudly laughing as Jessica giggles with her new friends and the puppy jumping around them (his name is Padapoof).
This last two months was a whirlwind where the most I could do was continue to ask you for prayer, promising a longer update once there would be time. In May, CPR-3 received a letter with a deadline and we had to find a new home for the girls. We started praying with hurting hearts about what in the world to do for these sisters who have moved too many times in three years. We knew they could not do one more transition after this, we needed a permanent home.
We had our own ideas, our own best case scenarios, and our own conversations and prayers as a team. We dreamed of a Haitian family deeply rooted in Jesus who was ready to love and take in two as their own. This didn’t happen. And then there was a reference that was a back-up plan, a last resort.
Of course that’s what God used.
CPR-3 has a passion for orphans and knows great orphanages in Haiti, but we are also aware of the mass amounts of children in orphanages who have parents. We are also aware that some orphanages are not good for children. We have a dream for families to rise up, communities to transform, and there to be no need for orphanages. Orphanages are not in our plan.
And that’s why I had my arms crossed as I bit my lip and stared out the window on the way to the “last resort”. An orphanage.
But as we met, I couldn’t deny a feeling heavier than emotion and lighter than just “this is a good place” – the Holy Spirit was giving us peace after years of prayer for these girls and a month of intense prayer asking, “What now?”. We sat meeting and knew that God planned this place for Jessica and Hope’s final transition of their childhood.
There are dozens of reasons why this is a place we are excited to call Jessica and Hope’s new home, but over it all we are confident God is placing them where they can grow up into a deep root system connected to Jesus.
We already felt a passion for this factor – Jesus – and then Brooke, Emily, Lexie, and Bailee met a widowed grandmother. She is sick and taking care of her granddaughter in a home the size of most American closets. As Brooke told me what happened, tears came to my eyes as I was reminded of what God wants for his daughters – Naika (in this grandmother’s care), Jessica, and Hope. In her sickness, this grandmother asked for prayer for her granddaughter – who will be orphaned if grandma passes away from sickness. The prayer was for the girl, her well-being, and care and provision. And what was the prayer the grandmother saw had the most priority?
“I pray that she would live in a place where she can fall in love and follow Jesus with all of her heart”
This life is a breath. Comfortable or in poverty, extended family or orphan; eternity will change our perspective on what was important in this life. Loving these girls, we know that this deep root in Jesus is His best plan for them. We don’t understand a lot of the details, but we are confident in that truth.
And within that, He is still providing so many other things – a continued connection to be with them as we consider them family, a family around them of other children and women taking care of them who truly love them, a beautiful home and education for their future. And as you have prayed and God has seen them all along, God has been holding their precious hearts in His hand through transition.
I am not saying transition is painless. There are still tears, there is still growing to do, and in adjustment the girls still need covered in prayer as they are tempted to turn inward or be confused and frustrated or sad. But every child, every human, goes through this. Have you ever moved? It’s normal to have some transition.
Hope’s hands are still as she gets used to her new home. Jessica’s hands are active, but it is because she is playing music and conducting her new friends to sing “This is the Day that the Lord has made” before bedtime. They have adjusting to do, but they are growing more comfortable in what is home. A beautiful place where they will learn they are safe to put roots down without transitioning again. A home where they are together, still able to share a bed even though for the first time they have the option to have their own.
As I visit them they are quiet, but I am assured they are running around like they should be at their age while on summer break. Their new home and the people loving them are amazing. Jessica and Hope are God’s daughters, and He has them in His hand as we get to be a part of their story. Thank you so much for being their prayer warriors in such a loaded, unexpected month for them. I want to personally let you know that it is not in vain – but it is breathing life.

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